DANIEL

“We’ll still be here.”

 Former Navajo Nation Council Delegate

“Sacred Places are not just points on a map, or where longitude and latitude cross. Sacred spaces, sacred places are the total landscape. So in this respect, when somebody says, ‘Where are you from?’ It’s just this whole landscape.”

“For anybody else, if they saw those rocks on the hills, or the mesas, [they would say] ‘Wow, we could harvest those and cut them up and make money.’ But no, people just leave it, leave it, because the natural landscape is what brings beauty to this place.”

“[I sometimes] saddle a horse and go on a mesa and see the herds of horses that come to a watering place, to where the different color colored stallions and their harems would be grouped in parts of the area. They would all take turns to water and then go off into the hill and then the next group would come and the next group would come and go water and they would go off to their own respective, probably what would be called territories… Most of it’s in the morning before it even gets hot.”

“I had heard the radio announcements that there was going to be a gathering [about oil and gas] at Nageezi Chapter, at Counselor Chapter, but it never really hit me because at the time I thought it was still just the vertical drilling.”

“I had gotten certified mail, saying, ‘Sign the lease, these are the [allotment] parcels that are going to be leased, your share is going to be this amount, when you sign the leases this is the check you’ll get.’”

“I went to the land agent’s office and basically questioned him. That’s where I found out … there would be hydraulic fracturing, the vertical drilling and then the horizontal drilling. I basically said, ‘I don’t want to sign,’ and he said, ‘Okay let me see your letter,’ and he pulled up the allotments and the leases and then he just smirked and said, ‘I don’t need your signature, I’ve already got 72% [allottee] approval, 91% approval, 96% approval.’”

“A few phone calls later I found out that none of the folks [who approved], the relatives who were part of the allotments, they really never knew it was going to be horizontal drilling.”

“[Now] over 94% of the lands in this area is leased.”

“My conjecture is, the Republicans, the oil developers (they’re almost one and the same) they knew what was coming, because they went after the four-lane highway 550. They knew that the impacted areas would be concerned about water, so they funded the Cutter Lateral to bring water, to supplement the drinking water system out in this area.”

“So the apprehension of ‘You’re going to ruin the aquifer’ was diminished because you’ve got public water now. What I’m saying is, strategic development has taken place and they really didn’t come into the communities and say, ‘This is coming at you, this is coming at you.’”

 “I’ve become more knowledgeable about how the systems operate. That way I can do a lot more community education.”

“If I spend too much time near some of the well sites that are emitting higher volumes I feel quite ill. It’ll take me three or four days to just recover, because as soon as you breathe it it’s into your blood system, it’s into every organ in your body, and it takes days to recover.”

“They don’t have to report a spill if it’s less than 500 gallons. And if there’s a spill of 150, they’ve got 24 hours to clean it up. But sure, naturally, all their spills are less than 500 gallons. And they have, what was it, 17 state monitors for over 67,000 wells. So they don’t get to each well but every 7 years or something.”

“The part that’s really heartwarming is when the younger folks speak up. When they take some of the information I’ve provided and use it in their statements, it’s heartwarming. And, of course, the leadership of the three Chapters, they are just in line with helping.”

“The whole basis of our fight is, “We’re not talking about money. We’re talking about you, and you, and you, your health. We’re talking about the air you breath, we’re talking about the water that you’re going to be drinking. We’re talking about your safety, the truck traffic. We’re not talking about the money.’ In reality, there are the haves and the have-nots.”

“We started all this work from the premise of us as Navajo people, us as the Tri-Chapter. Our sphere of influence is only so big. We need to reach out beyond the boundaries of our Chapters to tell the story… Our Greater Chaco coalition, their relatives could be the next spider web of support, and they could reach their Congressmen, their Senators, to make their statement.”

“We’ve been effective, we’ve made some milestone shows of solidarity, but I think that work just needs to keep going… Some of the young folks after the January 25 sale happened, ‘What are we going to do? What are we going to do?’”

“We just keep doing what we’re doing. We just keep going. And that’s what we can do.”

“When all of this is said and done, all the oil field people are gone, we’ll still be here. We’ll still be here.”

Will you add your voice?


Demand cancellation of the March 2018 oil and gas lease sale, and all future sales, in Greater Chaco until proper protections for the people, environment, and cultural resources are put in place.

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